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Gardens of the Four Rivers Heritage Area

May 26 2020

Gardens of the Four Rivers Heritage Area

William Paca House & GardenOver the past weekend, Historic London Town opened their gardens to the public at limited capacity. In anticipation of further reopenings in the future, here are some other sites in the Four Rivers Heritage Area that feature historically and environmentally significant gardens you’ll want to discover as soon as you get the chance.

Located in Annapolis, the Carroll House offers unparalleled views of the water from one of the most intact 18th century garden designs in the Chesapeake region.  In addition to the house itself, the garden contains three terraces and falls, as well as a seawall and large boxwood allees.  Charles Carroll of Carrollton was one of four Marylanders to sign the Declaration of Independence and was the only Roman Catholic signer. A reflection of the Carroll wealth and success, the garden stands as a monument to their success as Catholic Americans.

The William Paca Garden is a two-acre oasis of natural beauty in the bustling center of Annapolis’ Historic District. Roses, perennials and annuals in the parterres reflect what would have been available in the colonial period. The Kitchen Garden provides fresh delicacies such as salad greens, peas and melons.  In the fruit garden heirloom varieties of apples, pears, plums, cherries and figs are carefully trained into espaliers and cordons to take advantage of limited space in an urban garden.

What makes the William Paca Garden particularly significant is it was once covered by a 200-room hotel. Intrigued by garden details in the background of Charles Willson Peale’s 1772 portrait of Paca, researchers were able to reconstruct the site from a series of archeological digs that turned up evidence of the garden’s former glory. Today, the garden is again host to visitors as Historic Annapolis celebrates holidays, weddings and special events such as Bourbon.Blazers.Cigars and Paca Girlfriends.

The garden at Hammond-Harwood House provides a lovely respite in downtown Annapolis, hidden in back and enclosed by a brick wall, a set of tall magnolia trees, and boxwood hedges. This current garden is in the colonial revival style and dates from the 1950s. Some plantings, such as the large boxwood in the center back, date from the early 1800s. The area is maintained by volunteers and has been certified as “Baywise” for its plantings and care. The original property extended over four acres and likely held outbuildings such as a stable, spring house, and privy, as well as an orchard, kitchen garden, and herb garden.

During the first weekend of June, Hammond-Harwood House also hosts an annual its Secret Garden Tour. Hundreds of those who are curious about or love gardens have toured the secret gardens of Annapolis – behind historic houses, down picturesque alleyways, or inside intriguing gates. This year, since a live event is not possible, they’re taking their Secret Garden event online. Anyone can participate by sharing a photo of their garden in order to get featured in the Virtual Garden Tour on June 6 and 7.

Or, if you’re interested in venturing further down into southern Anne Arundel County to Shady Side, the Captain Avery Museum features a Rain Garden Project. The grounds of the Captain Avery Museum are currently open to social-distancing visitors.

The good news is, even if you’re not able to explore some of these gardens in person yet, there are still plenty of opportunities to do so virtually by visiting their websites and social media pages!